Attendance Awareness Month

September 25, 2018, Shirley Blake

The number one cause of absenteeism is illness. There are different types of illnesses, like when you have a fever or the flu but there are also illnesses like depression or anxiety. In children, it is commonly known as “My tummy doesn’t feel good.” Depression and anxiety is very common among parents too. In general if I feel peaceful, happy and relaxed it is easier for my children to reflect those emotions. I laugh because that is not always true but it does help.

I want to acknowledge that the mental/social-emotional well-being of a parent and a child is relevant to the attendance and success in a child’s education. More and more schools acknowledge that students bring their “whole self” to school, which includes home life experiences. A child’s home life is not always a home with food, healthy relationships, or stability. Sometimes a child, along with the family, is experiencing transitions, a temporary rough patch, or chronic struggles.

Mornings for my children and I can be a struggle to get out the door. My children like to gradually transition, and some mornings are rushed. When mornings are rushed, my son does not do well and starts getting anxious, which makes going to school hard for him. Through my work, my own research, and knowing my child well, I have found tools and strategies to help us have smooth mornings. My son would get annoyed when I told him to breathe deeply, so, instead, I bought a few essential oils that he finds. That helped him be more aware of his breathing through stimulation, but it was on his own terms. I am now working on a visual checklist to help him transition to the next task and stay on track in the mornings. I have learned to not be threatening in my approaches to get something done, but to work with my children, and learn that there is a process to getting things done for each of us.

I also want to acknowledge that, as parents, we try our best. Being able to identify our feelings is crucial for identifying depression or any other internal struggles. At the end of the day, we still have to work, go to school, and participate in society. Anxiety can become a real problem for getting to school, but there are ways to empathize, understand, and support your child with tools and supports. I can’t say that I have mastered a flawless morning routine, and I am not sure I ever will, but I am working on it.

If you have any suggestions, I would love to read about them. Please comment on our Facebook post, and check out our newsletter for common reasons for chronic absences and helpful tips.